Too quick to cancel?

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photo by Emily Patterson

“Cancel culture”; once a compassionate movement, now serves as a socially acceptable platform some use to silence and persecute those whom the masses deem as “wrong.”

Taking a public stance on just about anything comes with the possibility of disagreement and controversy; the development of certain community responses, both online and in real life, has cultivated the widely misconstrued concept of “cancel culture.” Intended to hold those with public influence accountable in terms of human decency, for some cancel culture has developed into what is now a socially acceptable platform from which to silence and persecute those whom the masses deem as “wrong.” Everyday students, celebrities and strangers  face the possibility of getting wrapped up in the wrong crowd and being effectively “cancelled”, something that holds the potential to affect every aspect of their lives, on campus and online.

Sophomore Raylee Simmons experienced a taste of cancel culture when she posted a vacation picture posing with a Trump floatie on her personal Instagram with the caption “me and my man #trump2020” on Aug. 29. Due to the backlash, Simmons was forced to turn off her comment section.

“I expected people to have different opinions but I never expected to be getting threats,”  Simmons said. “I was very surprised how little respect some people have for others…[the comments] included alot of profanity as well as physical threats.”

Affected students feel that there are no benefits to cancel culture, rather it discourages conversation. Senior Blake Watts says cancel culture does nothing but instill the concept of “guilty until proven innocent,” and finds that many are unwilling to learn from others. 

“We are morally obligated to let [others] voice their own opinions. The fact that [people] can’t even have a civil discourse without someone wanting to either punch you in the face, walk away or block you on social media is just beyond me,” Watts said. 

Despite the controversy surrounding cancel culture, there are students who stand by its “original” intent.

Junior Olivia Tulloch agrees with this premise on an individualized scale. At times where she felt that her morals were compromised by her continued relation to the problematic person involved, she removed herself from the equation.

“I have purposely stopped listening to artists, being friends with certain people, [and] supporting creators because of their lack of morals. ”

— Olivia Tulloch (11)

Tulloch has unfollowed celebrities like Kanye West, Tory Lanez and Lil Wayne along with ending personal relationships with certain friends and family. Aside from major figures, Tulloch has refrained from publicly shaming or rejecting individuals that go against her personal views as she does not agree with the concept of collectively cancelling someone. 

“I would never push [my] views on anyone else, I simply stick to what feels right for me,” Tulloch said.

Similarly, senior Izzy Pacheco has personally “unsubscribed or unfollowed” peers and celebrities whose behavior does not align with her views, but sees benefits in collective cancelling.

“The fear of saying something bad should be there because it prevents further cancelations,” Pacheco said. “[However] we need to do better in ensuring that if cancelling someone, it stays constructive and educational.” 

Most agree that while the intent served to better relations both online and in person in the face of controversy, the concept has been widely manipulated past the point of personal morality. 

“[Conceptually] it’s great, but the idea is just being abused at this point,” said senior Caleb Touchstone. “I think people should try to figure out the whole situation before disrespecting someone’s name. Anyone who partakes should look at themselves first before becoming the ‘judge and jury’ for everyone else.”

As an individual with an edgy sense of humor, Touchstone is familiar with the fickleness of cancel culture.

“There have been a few times I’ve joked around and trashed someone’s name right after a public accusation is made only to learn the truth about them shortly after and regret it,” Touchstone said. 

With the internet foaming at the mouth to take down the next unfortunate celebrity or classmate with a controversial past or opinion, it is up to each individual to decide whether cancel culture is still worth participating in either individually or collectively or whether the trend has simply gone too far. 

“My situation was taken way out of hand,” Simmons said. “[All] because I have a different opinion.”

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